The Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives has voted largely along party lines in favor of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level. Missouri’s Democratic members voted in support and Republicans voted against the plan. GOP Congresswoman Ann Wagner did not vote on the measure.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, or MORE Act, would remove cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances and create a process to eliminate low-level federal marijuana convictions and arrests. It would allow a 5% sales tax on marijuana products to invest in services like job training, legal aid, and substance misuse treatment. The revenue would also provide funds for small business loans and allow access to marijuana licensing and employment for economically disadvantaged individuals.
Bill sponsor Jerry Nadler, a Democratic Congressman from New York says the longtime federal drug policy has been particularly felt by minorities because it has kept some of them from getting jobs.
Outgoing Congressman Lacy Clay, D-Missouri, says by passing the MORE Act, the House is taking a historic step towards finally ending the federal prohibition on marijuana, advancing criminal justice reform, and helping level the economic playing field.
The plan would still leave it up to states to decide whether to pass their own regulations on marijuana sales.
On the House floor Friday, West-central Missouri Republican Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler spoke against the plan.
“This MORE Act would grant the marijuana industry unfettered access to our nation’s youth by allowing the sale of edibles and flavored marijuana vapes and permitting marijuana businesses to be located within 1,000 feet of schools, daycares, private kindergartens, public parks, and recreational facilities,” she says. “The bill also opens the flood gates for advertising high-potency and extremely dangerous products on TV and social media – a place where our kids are spending countless hours every day.”
The legislation is expected to have an uphill battle in the U.S. Senate.